3 Nourishing Shopping Tips
Does your week seem to get ahead of you? Let me help you! Follow these simple steps and your path to wellness and healthy eating will be set in motion. This article was co-created with the help of Stephanie Bower who is a friend and an amazing permaculture designer.
A big part of overall wellness is healthy eating. This means different things to different people – omnivore, vegetarian, vegan, raw, etc. Regardless of the particular dietary preferences you observe, there are several basics for healthy eating – minimize or eliminate processed foods; eat lots of veggies, fruits, legumes; consumed properly prepared grains and cook meals from scratch, to name a few. Here are some tips to build or maintain a foundation for healthy eating in your family.
1. Make a plan
Set aside 15 minutes or so on the weekend to plan your meals for the week.
- Try new recipes or use tried and true favorites.
- Make double batches so there are leftovers for lunches or dinners the next day, which cuts back on the amount of cooking.
- Make large batches of soups, stews, casseroles, or other recipes that can be portioned and frozen, then thawed during the week.
2. Create a shopping list
….from your meal plan. That way you won’t buy too much or forget a crucial ingredient. Having everything you need to whip up a healthy dinner also minimizes the chances you’ll stare into your fridge or pantry at the end of a long day, only to decide that takeout would be easier than trying to play Iron Chef with random things you find there.
3. Shop Wisely
This one’s hard, especially at mainstream supermarkets. Let’s focus the rest of these tips on how to shop wisely.
Health Food Stores and Farmer’s Markets
Let’s start with where to go – you’ll find a better selection of “real food” options at natural foods stores. Some local favorites: Whole Foods, Ewerhon Market, and Lassens. Farmer’s markets can’t be beat for produce, eggs, and other locally grown/produced and seasonal items. I like getting my organic fermented sourdough bread at the Farmer’s market.
If you don’t have access to a health food store, organic brands or farmer’s market near you and/or you want to take advantage of WholeFoods items at Costco prices, you can shop from this online source*. Try it for FREE for one month. FREE shipping on any order over $49, savings of up to 50%, top brands, 15% off your first order. They always seem to offer a valuable free giveaway at the beginning of each week.
Shop the Perimeter
That’s where most of the whole foods are – produce, meat, dairy. A note about produce – frozen is just as healthy as fresh. That’s because frozen veggies are frozen at the peak of freshness, right after being picked.
Buy in Season
Off-season produce is usually grown very far away, picked early to ensure it can make the long trip to your supermarket, then ripened artificially. However, the best place to shop for produce is the local farmers’ market and/or you local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a system where you pay into a farm or group of farms, and get a box of produce each week throughout the season (some may even be year-round, especially ones that are a group of farms). This ensures that the farmers have reliable funding to support their farm(s), and you get a return on your investment in the form of the farm’s bounty! This is great because you pick up your bag each week, and get a variety of things you may not have thought to purchase yourself. You get exposed to many new super healthy veggies and fruits, and help support local farmers in the process. It’s a win-win!
Buy Grass fed/Grass finished, Pasture Raised and Organic Meat, Egg and Dairy
It’s better for you and the environment. Choose raw organic milk. Make sure your eggs come from pasture raised chickens.
Choose Wild-caught Sustainable Fish
This is my trusted online source for seafood.* Here is a HUGE pearl of wisdom….when you eat food that is real food, unadulterated by man and is sustainably sourced, you don’t need to consume as much as conventionally produced foods because it is so densely packed with nutrients, your body is satisfied with less amount.
Use the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG’s) “dirty dozen” and “clean fifteen” lists as guides for which produce to buy organic if you have a tight budget. The EWG has a downloadable pdf or an app so you can always have the list at your fingertips:
According to the EWG, the “dirty dozen” most pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables are: strawberries, apples, nectarines, peaches, celery, grapes, cherries, spinach, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers. Green beans and kale/greens may contain pesticides of particular concern. There are two types of food that contain trace levels of highly hazardous pesticides. Leafy greens – kale and collard greens – and hot peppers do not meet traditional Dirty Dozen™ ranking criteria but were frequently found to be contaminated with insecticides toxic to the human nervous system. Buy these organic.
The “clean 15″ are avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwis, eggplant, honeydew melon, grapefruit, cantaloupe, and cauliflower.
If on a tight budget, buy your strawberries organic but don’t spend extra on organic avocados. But, and this is important, even conventional produce is much, much, much better for you than processed foods. So eat lots of it, and don’t skip it if you can’t get organic.
A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal. The foreign genes may come from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans. Because this involves the transfer of genes, GMOs are also known as “transgenic” organisms. Genetically modified crops and foods are neither safe nor necessary to feed the world. Here you can read more facts about GMOs.
When it comes to detecting GMOs, the Non-GMO Project utilizes a much more rigorous process than the one employed by the USDA’s National Organic Program. However, the Non-GMO Project does not account for super-toxic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and other substances prohibited in USDA certified organic products. (Its objective is simply to identify genetically-modified ingredients.)
That is why I will always choose USDA certified organic over Non-GMO Project Verified. If you can buy a product that is USDA certified organic and Non-GMO Project Verified, that is the best of both worlds.
Read especially the list of ingredients. Carefully consider anything that has more than five ingredients although there are many exceptions to this rule of thumb. For instance potato chips that are fried with refined rancid vegetable oils may have limited list of ingredients but say yogurt may have a longer list and some that you may not be able to pronounce. Don’t buy anything that has any form of sugar or sweetener in the first three ingredients. Of course, don’t buy anything that has ingredients you can’t pronounce unless it is a latin name for friendly bacterias in yogurt. Maybe you can pronounce them if you have taken chemistry but if it isn’t produced naturally by nature, be careful. Be wary of products with health claims on the package. They’re usually highly engineered and processed foods. Ignore the front of the package and read the label especially the list of ingredients instead.
Get rice, quinoa, oatmeal, nuts, seeds, beans, interesting grains you’ve always wanted to try (think millet, amaranth, etc.) Bulk bins save you lots of money, and you get real foods there. Stay away from the candy of course.
Eat Locally Grown and Produced Foods
Eat locally grown produce that’s in season and picked when ripe. Farmer’s markets and your CSA are the best source of local and in season foods. You can chat with the vendors to get new ideas for familiar items, or try something new. I didn’t know the benefits of Juju Beans until I tried one at the farmers’ market; now I can’t get enough of them when in season! When at the farmers’ market, ask lots of questions. Do not assume that just because you find it there, it’s organic. Some smaller farms don’t go through the hassle and expense of becoming “certified” organic, but they do follow organic practices, most importantly they do not use pesticides. However, there are sometimes vendors selling conventionally grown produce (= grown using pesticides, etc.). Some markets are more stringent about this than others, but just be sure to ask. A great question whose answer will shed the light on whether the farmer grows organically or not (whether certified or not) is “Do you use fertilizers?”. If the answer is “our fertilizers are organic” or “we don’t use pesticides”, move on. If they say “we use compost as fertilizer”, you are on the right track.
I’d love to hear about your progress and which one of these steps you are going to implement in the next few weeks? Share your comments below and if you liked this article, please share it with your loved ones. If on a computer, hover over the feature image to share via social sites or if on mobile device, share this post when the share box pops up.
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